Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Experiences with Spanish hiking maps

3rd November 2018

Currently, I am writing up my walking trip to Mallorca from December 2016 but it is proving to be slow going. Enthusiasm for completing the job is waning so splitting up the endeavour might be in order, especially since the narrative is heading in different directions. Towards this end, I will share my ruminations on using Spanish hiking maps since they have intruded in the trip report and could deflect it from proceeding in a single direction. As things stand, it needs some additions even if it already has grown quite long already.

Before I left, I ensured that I was supplied with maps. The best of these were ones by Editorial Alpina and they covered the Serra de Tramuntana as a two map set. The scale was 1:25000 with hiking trails well marked but I ended up stepping outside their coverage around Port d’Andratx and needed one from the 1:40000 four map set by Reise Know-How to make up the shortfall. The latter covers the whole island, shows hiking trails and is made from waterproof paper, not that I needed the last feature on my trip.

Though it provided useful trail tracking, my Garmin GPS receiver proved less useful because of the poor quality of its Spanish maps. Around Port de Pollença, it may have been stymied by the presence of a military facility but the shortcomings were more than apparent around Port d’Andrtatx when I failed to locate the path that would have led me to a track towards Sant Elm. It did not help that I was in a fragile state that day but I would consider an alternative on another Spanish trip.

Though maps from Spain’s national mapping agency CNIG do not show trails, they do come in 1:50000 and 1:250000 scales that are available in digital form through SityTrail and ViewRanger. The former of these offers annual subscriptions while only an expensive all country lifetime licence is available from the latter. Both offer mobile phone apps so they would be usable much like that from Britain’s Ordnance Survey, useful as a pinpointing backup to a paper map for those moments when uncertainty descends though complementing with a compass is best.

If I was ever to venture onto Spanish territory again, I would be tempted to give SityTrail a whirl while out walking. For writing the Mallorca trip report, I have an active subscription and have been able to load GPX tracks on there after exporting them from my Garmin device. That should help with route descriptions even with CNIG data behind them and added photos can act as confirmation.

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